A Strength Formula

February 26, 2014

“When I am weak then I am strong…” (2 Corinthians 12:10)

In these eight words the Apostle Paul gives us a strength formula.  When people are having a serious operation, instead of counting to 10 as the anesthesiologist administers the medicine that knocks them out, I suggest they say these eight words.  While most of us are ‘control freaks,’ after experiencing the full effects of anesthesia we give up all control.  But, as believers when we give up all control, we will find underneath the everlasting arms. (Deuteronomy 33:27)  This makes us stronger than we have ever been.

Paul, quoting Isaiah, writes the key to spiritual strength is that God gives strength to the weary and power to the weak. One translation reads that God’s strength looks good on weak people.  The key to spiritual strength is therefore not found in our strength but in our weakness. These eight words are therefore the formula for strength.  They will give you great spiritual strength in your time of absolute weakness.  Discover with the Apostle Paul that God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness, not in trying to make ourselves strong.  We find our greatest strength in the Everlasting Arms that are there underneath us.

Prove what Isaiah and Paul teach us.  The everlasting arms are there and they give us more strength than we have ever known as healthy active people.  The next time you experience weakness on any level of life remember to pray these eight words: “When I am weak then I am strong.”

You will soon find yourself saying, “I’m not but He is; I can’t, but He can;” and then, “I didn’t but He did” when you let God perfect His strength in your weakness.

Editor’s Note:  After a health hiatus from blogging, Papa (Dick Woodward) is back. We so appreciate the prayers that have lifted him up during abject weakness the past 6 weeks, beginning with a severe 2 week bronchial infection, a week in the hospital where he was treated for heart failure, and a severe 10-day stomach virus that has left him completely pooped out. Although only 30% of Papa’s heart now functions & for many days he couldn’t even speak, his strength and continued presence with us is totally by God’s miraculous grace.  Thank you for your continued prayers.

The Blog Posting Elf  (Dick’s daughter, Virginia)


Adversity or Atrophy

October 15, 2013

“…  Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress…”  (Psalm 4:1 KJV)

Just about every emotional challenge we experience today was faced by the psalmist many years ago.  If we will observe what he did when he struggled, and receive from God the grace to respond as the hymn writer responded, we can often overcome our emotional challenges.

In Psalm 4 the psalmist faces the emotional challenge of distress.  If you drop the first two letters, the word becomes stress.  We all have stress.  If we do not have stress we atrophy.  I have not put stress on my legs for 30 years.  Consequently, my legs are the size of your arms. “If you don’t use it you lose it” is the way the physical therapists describe atrophy.

Our loving Father God knows that what is true for our bodies is also true in our spiritual life. God is fiercely committed to the proposition that we are going to grow spiritually.  If we have no spiritual stress we will experience spiritual atrophy.  He therefore will not only permit, but direct into our lives any stress that will grow us as He gives us the grace to cope with that stress.

God tells us through the prophet Isaiah: “I create calamity” (Isaiah 45:7).  Many of us can trust God for the good things that comfort and sustain us.  But do we have the faith and the knowledge of God to see Him in the challenges that make the difference for us between spiritual growth and atrophy?

The Greek compound word hupomone, translated as “perseverance” in our English Bibles, literally means “to abide under.”  To apply hupomone, we should ask God for the grace to abide under stress, grow spiritually, and not atrophy.


A Setback or a Cutback?

August 14, 2012

“… every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”  (John 15: 2)

 My mentor Ray Stedman loved to tell the story about the famous violinist Paganini.  As a brilliant violinist and a superb showman, he liked to attach a sharp razor to his wrist.  At the right moment he would cut one of the strings on his violin.  The string would pop and the audience would gasp, but the most famous violinist in the world would keep playing.  He did this repeatedly and dramatically until he only had one string left on his violin.  As a genius he would then play the entire concerto on that one string.

Ray’s application was that God sometimes likes to cut back our strings and play the concert of our life on one string.  This brings great glory to Him because people can’t believe that as we are experiencing those cutbacks our concerto continues to play with an even more beautiful sound.

My precious wife has lost the use of her left arm and I have lost the use of all four limbs.  But the concerto of our lives and ministry continues to be more fruitful than it has ever been which brings great glory to God who is the One playing the concerto of our lives.

The explanation of Jesus was that He is a Vine and we are branches related to Him.  When we are fruitful because of that alignment He cuts us back to make us more fruitful.  Is it possible that events in your life that you have considered a setback are actually the cutback of your loving Lord and Savior who wants your life to be fruitful and your reward to be great in heaven?